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while we would foster all that it bids to live, we would willingly revive much that it leaves to die. The very multiplication of works of amusement necessarily withdraws many from notice that deserve to be kept in remembrance ; for we should soon find it labour, and not amusement, if we were obliged to make use of them all, or even to take all upon trial. As the materials of enjoyment and instruction accumulate around us, more and more must thus be daily rejected and left to waste ; for while our tasks lengthen, our lives remain as short as ever ; and the calls on our time multiply, while our time itself is flying swiftly away. This superfluity, and abundance of our treasures, therefore, necessarily renders much of them worthless; and the veriest accidents may, in such a case, determine what part shall be preserved, and what thrown away and neglected. When an army is decimated, the very
bravest may and many poets, worthy of eternal remembrance, have been forgotten, merely because there was not room in our memories for all.
By such a work as the present, however, this injustice of fortune may be partly redressed- some small fragments of an immortal strain may still be rescued from oblivion-and a wreck of a name preserved, which time appeared to have swallowed up for ever. There is something pious, we think, and endearing, in the office of thus gathering up the ashes of renown that has passed away; or rather, of calling back the departed life for a transitory glow, and enabling those great spirits which seemed to be laid for ever, still to draw a tear of pity, or a throb of admiration, from the hearts of a forgetful generation. The body of their poetry, probably, can never be revived; but some sparks of its spirit may yet be preserved, in a narrower and feebler flame.
When we look back upon the havoc which two hundred years have thus made in the ranks of our immortals—and, above all, when we refer their rapid disappearance to the quick succession of new competitors, and the accumulation of more good works than there is time to peruse—we cannot help being dismayed at the prospect which lies before the writers of the present day. There never was an age so prolific of popular poetry as that in which we now live; and as wealth, population, and education extend, the produce is likely to go on increasing. The last ten years have produced, we think, an annual supply of about ten thousand lines of good staple poetry-poetry from the very first hands that we can boast of—that runs quickly to three or four large editions-and is as likely to be permanent as present success can make it. Now, if this goes on for a hundred years longer, what a task will await the poetical readers of 1919! Our living poets will then be nearly as old as Pope and Swift are at present, but there will stand between them and that generation nearly ten times as much fresh and fashionable poetry as is now interposed between us and those writers; and if Scott, and Byron, and Campbell have already cast Pope and Swift a good deal into the shade, in what form and dimensions are they themselves likely to be presented to the eyes of our great-grandchildren ? The thought, we own, is a little appalling; and, we confess, we see nothing better to imagine than that they may find a comfortable place in some new collection of specimens—the centenary of the present publication. There—if the future editor have anything like the indulgence and veneration for antiquity of his predecessor—there shall posterity still hang with rapture on the half of Campbell, and the fourth part of Byron, and the sixth of Scott, and the scattered tithes of Crabbe, and the three per cent. of Southey ; while some good-natured critic shall sit in our mouldering chair, and more than half prefer them to those by whom they have been superseded! It is an hyperbole of good-nature, however, we fear, to ascribe to them even those dimensions at the end of a century. After a lapse of two hundred and fifty years, we are afraid to think of the space they may have shrunk into. We have no Shakspeare, alas ! to shed a never-setting light on his contemporaries ; and if we continue to write and rhyme at the present rate for two hundred years longer, there must be some new art of shorthand reading invented, or all reading will be given up in despair.
JAMES WATT.-THE STEAM-ENGINE.
From the Scotsman of 4th September 1819. Mr James Watt, the great improver of the steam-engine, died on the 25th of August 1819, at his seat of Heathfield, near Birmingham, in the eighty-fourth year of his age.
This name fortunately needs no commemoration of ours; for he that bore it survived to see it crowned with undisputed and unenvied honours ; and many generations will probably pass away before it shall have gathered 'all its fame.' We have said that Mr Watt was the great Improver of the steam-engine ; but, in truth, as to all that is admirable in its structure, or vast in its utility, he should rather be described as its Inventor. It was by his inventions that its action was so regulated as to make it capable of being applied to the finest and most delicate manufactures, and its power so increased as to set weight and solidity at defiance.
By his admirable contrivance, it has become a thing stupendous alike for its force and its flexibility—for the prodigious power which it ean exert, and the ease, and precision, and ductility with which that power can be varied, distributed, and applied. The trunk of an elephant, that can pick up a pin or rend an oak, is as nothing to it. It can engrave a seal, and crush masses of obdurate metal before it—draw out, without breaking, a thread as fine as gossamer, and lift a ship of war like a bauble in the air. It can embroider muslin and forge anchors-cut steel into ribbons, and impel loaded vessels against the fury of the winds and waves.
It would be difficult to estimate the value of the benefits which these inventions have conferred upon this country. There is no branch of industry that has not been indebted to them; and in all the most material, they have not only widened most magnificently the field of its exertions, but multiplied a thousandfold the amount of its productions. It was our improved Steam-engine, in short, that fought the battles of Europe, and exalted and sustained, through the late tremendous contest, the political greatness of our land. It is the same great power which now enables us to pay the interest of our debt, and to maintain the arduous struggle in which we are still engaged (1819), with the skill and capital of countries less oppressed with taxation. But these are poor and narrow views of its importance. It has increased indefinitely the mass of human comforts and enjoyments; and rendered cheap and accessible, all over the world, the materials of wealth and prosperity. It has armed the feeble hand of man, in short, with a power to which no limits can be assigned; completed the dominion of mind over the most refractory qualities of matter; and laid a sure foundation for all those future miracles of mechanic power which are to aid and reward the labours of after generations. It is to the genius of one man, too, that all this is mainly owing! And certainly no man ever bestowed such a gift on his kind. The blessing is not only universal, but unbounded ; and the fabled inventors of the plough and the loom, who were deified by the erring gratitude of their rude contemporaries, conferred less important benefits on mankind than the inventor of our present steam-engine.
THOMAS CHALMERS: 1780-1847.
Dr Chalmers, one of the greatest pulpit orators of the century, was the son
of a merchant in Fifeshire. He became minister of Kilmany in Fife in 1803. His growing reputation as an orator led to his removal to Glasgow in 1815, whence his fame as a preacher and author became diffused throughout Europe. In 1823 he became Professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews, and in 1828 Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh. At the secession from the Church of Scotland in 1843, he relinquished his appointment, and became one of the founders of the Free Church. His collected works fill thirty-four volumes, of which the more important are his Natural Theology, Evidences of Christianity, Moral Philosophy, and Astronomical Discourses.
THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF THIS EARTH,
From Astronomical Discourses.
Though this earth were to be burned up, though the trumpet of its dissolution were sounded, though yon sky were to pass away as a scroll, and every visible glory which the finger of the Divinity has inscribed on it were to be put out for ever-an event so awful to us, and to every world in our vicinity, by which so many suns would be extinguished, and so many varied scenes of life and population would rush into forgetfulness—what is it in the high scale of the Almighty's workmanship ? a mere shred, which, though scattered into nothing, would leave the universe of God one entire scene of greatness and of majesty. Though the earth and the heavens were to disappear, there are other worlds which roll afar; the light of other suns shines upon them; and the sky which mantles them is garnished with other stars. Is it presumption to say that the moral world extends to these distant and unknown regions ? that they are occupied with people ? that the charities of home and of neighbourhood flourish there ? that the praises of God are there lifted up, and his goodness rejoiced in that there piety has its temples and its offerings ? and the richness of the divine attributes is there felt and admired by intelligent worshippers ?
And what is this world in the immensity which teems with them ? and what are they who occupy it? The universe at large would suffer as little in its splendour and variety by the destruction of our planet, as the verdure and sublime magnitude of a forest would suffer by the fall of a single leaf. The leaf quivers on the branch which supports it. It lies at the mercy of the slightest accident. A breath of wind tears it from its stem, and it lights on the stream of water which passes underneath. In a moment of time the life, which we know by the microscope it teems with, is extinguished; and an occurrence so insignificant in the eye of man, and on the scale of his observation, carries in it to the myriads which people this little leaf an event as terrible and as decisive as the destruction of a world. Now, on the grand scale of the universe, we, the occupiers of this ball, which performs its little round among the suns and the systems that astronomy has unfolded -we may feel the same littleness and the same insecurity. We differ from the leaf only in this circumstance, that it would require the operation of greater elements to destroy us. But these elements exist. The fire which rages within may lift its devouring energy to the surface of our planet, and transform it into one wide and wasting volcano. The sudden formation of elastic matter in the bowels of the earth—and it lies within the agency of known substances to accomplish this—may explode it into fragments. The exhalation of noxious air from below may impart a virulence to the air that is around us; it may affect the delicate proportion of its ingredients; and the whole of animated nature may wither and die under the malignity of a tainted atmosphere. A blazing comet may cross this fated planet in its orbit, and realise all the terrors which superstition has conceived of it. We cannot anticipate with precision the consequences of an event which every astronomer must know to lie within the limits of chance and probability. It may hurry our globe towards the sun, or drag it to the outer regions of the planetary system, or give it a new axis of revolution —and the effect, which I shall simply announce without explaining it, would be to change the place of the ocean, and bring another mighty flood upon our islands and continents.
These are changes which may happen in a single instant of time, and against which nothing known in the present system of things provides us with any security. They might not annihilate the earth, but they would unpeople it, and we, who tread its surface with such firm and assured footsteps, are at the mercy of devouring elements, which, if let loose upon us by the hand of the Almighty, would spread solitude, and silence, and death over the dominions of the world.
Now, it is this littleness and this insecurity which make the protection of the Almighty so dear to us, and bring with such emphasis to every pious bosom the holy lessons of humility and